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How Many Grams of Fat Should You Eat Per Day?

by
author image Melodie Anne
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.
How Many Grams of Fat Should You Eat Per Day?
Fat is a necessary part of a healthy diet but be aware, not all fats are equal. Photo Credit Monkey Business Images/Monkey Business/Getty Images

Fat often has a poor reputation, but it isn’t all bad. Some types of fat safeguard your heart by evening out your cholesterol levels. Your body even uses fat to regulate your core body temperature, produce hormones and aid in the production of enzymes used during digestion. Be aware, not all fats are created equal. Because different types of fat have positive or negative effects on your body, you should keep track of which types you consume, as well as how many grams you consume daily.

Total Fat Recommendation

How Many Grams of Fat Should You Eat Per Day?
The exact dietary fat requirement varies by person based on your average caloric intake. Photo Credit Danilin Vasily/iStock/Getty Images

Fat should account for 20 to 35 percent of your total calories, as pointed out in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. So the exact requirement for you ultimately depends on the average number of calories in your diet. For example, if you adhere to a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet, you can have 400 to 700 calories from fat every day. All fat has 9 calories per gram, meaning if you divide those calories by 9, you’ll get your recommendation of 44 to 78 grams of fat per day for a 2,000-calorie diet.

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Getting the Good Fats

How Many Grams of Fat Should You Eat Per Day?
The best types of fat are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds and cold water fish. Photo Credit AlexPro9500/iStock/Getty Images

The total fat gram recommendation includes all fats in your diet, whether they are beneficial or not. Ideally, all of the fat you consume should come from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated sources, known as PUFAs and MUFAs. These fats -- which come from cold-water fish, vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and avocados -- can help lower your overall cholesterol level, and thus protect your heart, when you consume them in place of saturated and trans fats.

Saturated Fats

How Many Grams of Fat Should You Eat Per Day?
Animal based foods like bacon, pork sausage and butter have a high saturated fat content. Photo Credit Charlotte Allen/iStock/Getty Images

You probably won’t be able to avoid saturated fats altogether, although you do have to minimize them in your diet. This harmful fat can contribute to hardening of your arteries, as well as a high total cholesterol level. Over time, a diet rich in saturated fats can elevate your risk of heart disease and stroke. No more than 10 percent of your total calories should come from saturated fat -- no more than 7 percent if you’re already at risk for developing heart disease. For a 2,000-calorie diet, this amounts to a maximum of 22 grams of saturated fat if you’re healthy, or just 15.5 grams if you’re worried about your heart. These fat grams take up some of your total fat gram allowance for the day.

Trans Fats

How Many Grams of Fat Should You Eat Per Day?
Check nutritional labels for trans fat content. Photo Credit Mark Poprocki/iStock/Getty Images

Artificial trans fats are particularly dangerous because they can elevate your low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, levels. While saturated fat can do this too, the major concern with artificial trans fats is that they can also lower your high-density lipoprotein, or HDL. To put it into perspective, this dangerous fat raises your bad cholesterol while lowering your good cholesterol, throwing the entire ratio out of balance. Your risk of developing cardiovascular problems goes up immensely if you overindulge in processed foods that are loaded with trans fats. The American Heart Association says that you should limit trans fats to less than 1 percent of your caloric intake. That would be a maximum of 2.2 grams of trans fat for a 2,000-calorie diet. As with saturated fats, if you do have trans fats, they’ll take away from your total fat gram daily requirement.

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